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Antioxidants 101

Posted by Susie Wang on

100% PURE Retinol Restorative Neck Cream

If you thought wrinkles were the worst thing that could happen to your skin, you have another think coming.

Free radicals cause one of the most pervasive kinds of skin damage - these particles come out to play each time our skin is exposed to UV rays and pollution.

Thank goodness we’ve discovered the power of antioxidants for combatting skin damage caused by these free-wheeling bug-a-boos.

By harnessing the vitamins found in our favorite superfoods for skin care, 100% Pure gives you all the tools you need to fill your medicine cabinet with the best possible free radical antidote.

Here’s everything you need to know about the power of antioxidants - and how they can transform your skin care routine so you continue to look healthy and radiant, no matter your age.

Class is in session.


Lock Up Those Free Radicals

For most of us, our morning routine starts with a nice, healthy dollop of sunscreen to protect our skin from harmful UV rays.

But there are other skin-damaging particles afoot that don’t care a whit for sunscreen: you guessed it - free radicals.

“At a cellular level...free radicals can kick off a chain reaction that causes a huge path of destruction and often, ultimately, the death of the cell,” explains Anita Bhagwandas at Marie Claire UK.

If the thought of free radicals causing skin cells to die bums you out, you should know the amount of work antioxidants can do to counteract the damage.

"Antioxidants stop the chain reaction of free radical formation and benefit our health by boosting our immune system," K. Sandeep Prabhu, a professor of immunology at Penn State University, told the university’s newspaper.

That’s what makes antioxidants such a powerful ingredient for skin care - arguably as important as sunscreen.

Wait - antioxidants? Isn’t that a superfood thing? How can that possibly help my skin?

Good question! Next slide, please.

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Very Important Vitamins and Super Superfoods

Our body can produce some antioxidants on its own, but much of the help we receive in that department comes from nutrient-rich foods or important vitamins and minerals.

“While there are thousands of antioxidant compounds out there, you’ve probably heard of flavanols (found in chocolate), resveratrol (found in wine), and lycopene (found in tomatoes),” writes Sophia Breene at Greatist. “Other popular antioxidants include vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, E, and catechins.”

This is part of why you hear nutritionists spotlight “superfoods” like blueberries - chock-full of vitamin C - or blackberries, which contain even larger amounts of antioxidants.

With so many antioxidants to keep track of, here’s a little cheat sheet for some of the most common - and what they can do for you as part of a comprehensive skin care routine:

Vitamin A: Naturally found in carrots and dark, leafy greens, you might be familiar with one of the more famous forms of vitamin A: retinol. When applied topically, retinol helps boost collagen production, which can diminish signs of fine lines and wrinkles.

Vitamin B3: According to Alexandra Tunell at Harper’s Bazaar, vitamin B3 “strengthens the skin’s barrier function.” That’s important for two reasons: First, a strong skin barrier helps keep moisture in, which makes your skin feel soft, smooth, and hydrated. Second, a strong skin barrier also keeps skin-damaging irritants out - that’s less pollution, dirt, and oil clogging your pores.

Vitamin C: This vitamin takes many different forms in skin care products, including ascorbic acid (high in acidity) and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (lower in acidity). Vitamin C knocks out free radicals that might otherwise “cause wrinkles, sagging, and general aging,” writes Tunell.

Vitamin E: Found in nuts and seeds - almonds and sunflower seeds, for example - vitamin E is another nutrient that strengthens skin by helping moisture stick around.

Resveratrol: A naturally-occurring antioxidant found in red wine, resveratrol can increase your natural defense line of antioxidants, leading to brighter, more elastic skin.

Lycopene: This beauty helps give fruits and vegetables their red pigmentation - think tomatoes, grapefruits, and rosehips. When used in skin care, its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help soothe sun-damaged skin.

Catechins: Found in green tea like matcha, catechins help repair sun damage, zap free radicals, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

While you might think that consuming a diet high in antioxidants will have major benefits for your skin, it doesn’t exactly work that way. That’s where science comes in.

Next slide, please.


Origin Story

Considering all the work that goes into keeping antioxidants stable enough to use in skin care products, it’s a wonder the beauty industry figured it out at all.

“When formulating skincare products, you can’t just throw in a shedload of antioxidants and hope for the best,” writes Bhagwandas at Marie Claire UK.

“There are three key factors involved: how to keep them stable in the products (antioxidants are easily perishable); how well they are actually absorbed into the skin; and what concentrations are necessary to make them effective without being an irritant.”

As Bhagwandas explains, the temperamental nature of antioxidants is why you’ll often find them in expensive packaging - designed to keep out light - and with a strict use-by date. Once the fire’s gone out of antioxidant treatments, there’s no getting it back.

“Topical antioxidants target the surface epidermal layers of the skin,” Mike Bell, a scientific advisor for the British pharmacy Boots, told Bhagwandas.

“They work by quenching the free radicals that are on the skin’s surface, and by supporting the skin’s own natural antioxidant system in the surface layers of the skin.”

So that’s how it works! You just have to remember to use it all before that expiration date for the full effect.


Not Your Mother’s Skin Care Routine

You might never want to give up your wrinkle creams - and we won’t make you. But there’s simply too much compelling evidence to suggest that antioxidants are the new way to go for younger, healthier skin.

It also turns out there’s power in numbers - the number of antioxidants in your skin cream, that is.

“There are a number of different types of free radicals generated in the skin, depending on what the external stressor is,” Bell told Marie Claire UK.

“But a blend of antioxidants is required to tackle the key free radicals that cause accelerated ageing.”

There are plenty of places in your skin care routine where you can switch out tired anti-aging products for something a little more effective - like a powerful antioxidant treatment.

Here’s what we suggest - are you taking notes?

After sunscreen, but before moisturizer: Consider adding a serum that helps block free radicals, giving your SPF a little extra oomph.

From our catalog: Tap into the power of catechins with our Organic Matcha Shielding Serum. Not only will this serum help fight off free radicals, but it will also help lock in moisture, giving you a radiant, healthy, glowing complexion.

Pump up your moisturizer: Remember the role antioxidants play in strengthening your skin’s barrier against the irritants of the world? Find a moisturizer with antioxidants to increase the amount of hydration your skin retains.

From our catalog: Filled with natural sources of antioxidants - rosehips and green tea - and deeply nourishing nutrients like shiitake mushrooms and avocado oil, our Organic Matcha Anti-Aging Moisturizer fights free radical damage while helping to restore previously damaged skin.

Use nighttime to repair: As we age, the skin beneath our eyes becomes thinner, making under eye circles even more noticeable. (That seems unfair, right?) Fight back with a powerful under eye cream filled with antioxidants that can repair damage while you sleep.

From our catalog: Caffeine’s not just for your cup of coffee anymore. Our Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream combines caffeine, an anti-inflammatory, with powerful antioxidants from green tea to brighten dark under eye circles.

Alright, now that you have the low-down on the value of antioxidants, it’s time for a pop quiz.

We kid! We’d never do that to you.

Whether they come in the form of free-radical fighters like catechins or collagen-boosting retinol, antioxidants are the most powerful anti-aging tool in your arsenal. Unless you have a time machine we don’t know about.

Are you beating back the clock with antioxidants? Tell us about your favorite secret weapons in the comments below :

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